You’d have been forgiven for thinking me part-wolf last week, given my uncontrollable howling and beastly moods. Then again, I probably wouldn’t have forgiven you; I’d have gobbled you up whole, like I almost did The Mother-in-Law, when she ‘vanished’ my keys for a night.
At times like these, it helps to be in the West Country surrounded by hippies, ex-Druids (really) and new-age Jews, who all pointed to the Autumn Equinox to make sense of my shifting emotional state. Personally, I blame the sleepless nights coupled with a new addiction to short cups of coffee, AND THE MOTHER-IN-LAW FOR STEALING MY KEYS!
The only option that I gave The Husband for the survival of his mother was for us to steal away in the middle of the night. So, after gathering up the children, we pootled across the River Severn and into the Welsh countryside, where I planned to stand atop a hill and howl at the moon.
The problem with slipping away with children is that it isn’t quite slippy, once you’ve remembered to pack all their fluffy and absorbent accoutrements. And the problem with escaping into the night spontaneously in the Information Age, is that you have nowhere to stay. Especially when our destination is hosting two of its most visited annual events.
After hours of travelling, numerous disheartening conversations with fully-booked lodgings, and two back-to-back heart-attack-inducing meals consisting of thrice-fried food, we found an inn that looked kindly upon the wandering Jews in what played out as an ersatz Nativity on a Welsh mountain during the Autumn Equinox.
Thankfully, after a night’s rest on three single beds pushed together, our escape to the country proved fruitful. It didn’t rain, the river Wye twinkled around the children’s toes, and we all went “weeeeeee” as we cycled through the beautiful hills. Best of all, this mother wolf shed her fur and returned home in Homo sapiens clothing to pick the last of the apples off the trees. With The Mother-in-Law.
1/4 red cabbage
1/2 red onion, peeled
2 English apples
1/2 fennel bulb
100g Kentish cobnuts, shelled, or 75g hazelnuts or walnuts
1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed (dried cranberries or raisins work really well too)
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 organic free-range egg yolk
2 tablespoons blackberry vinegar (1 tablespoon of honey or pomegranate molasses mixed with 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar will do)
100ml cold pressed sunflower oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Finely slice the red cabbage and red onion.
Quarter and finely slice the apples, leaving the skin on but discarding the core. Remove the base and tough outer leaf from the fennel, and slice finely. Put these in a large bowl.
Toast the nuts in a frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes, to release their flavour. (If using hazelnuts, tip onto a clean tea towel and rub to remove their skins.) Chop the nuts roughly and add to the bowl along with the pomegranate seeds, poppy seeds and lemon juice. Season to taste.
Make the mayonnaise by whisking the egg yolk and blackberry vinegar (or honey and white wine vinegar) together. Season to taste. Now slowly add the oil, pouring in a steady stream and whisking all the time. It should come together and emulsify within moments.
Mix the mayonnaise into the salad and serve immediately.